The Story of Joy and Sorrow

Reblogged from Lynn Mosher: Encouraging the Heart-Uplifting the Soul.

This wonderful post from my bloggy friend, Lynn Mosher, goes along with my JOY and FAITH themes this year. Lynn has a special way of making a story come alive, and I know you’ll appreciate this as much as I do.

Thank you, Lynn, for allowing me to share this with my readers.

The Story of Joy and Sorrow

Photo credit: Lynn Mosher

Photo credit: Lynn Mosher

Once upon a time, twin sisters, Joy and Sorrow, lived in the same house with their Father, whose name was Comfort.

Joy skipped along her way enjoying every moment, savoring the sights and sounds of her everyday life, as her heart overflowed with praise and thanksgiving to her Father.

Sorrow, on the other hand, was somewhat defiant, rebelling against her Father, grumbling because of the pain in her life.

Nevertheless, they both experienced the same trials and heartaches, and yet, they each went about their day singing a different tune.

Read the rest here.

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Not Everyone’s Merry at Christmastime [repost from Abandoned to Christ]

Life here on earth is admittedly hard. It seems like it’s never only one thing at a time that is a difficulty. That one thing turns into a host of problems, and we wonder if we’ll ever see that light at the end of our long tunnel.

Maybe there are things we remember from a not-so-great time in our past that intrude and try to replace our happiness and joy during Christmas.

Or perhaps we’re missing some precious people who have already gone home to the Lord.

Could it be that the sadness is a combination of all of the above?

Today I’d like to share with you a recent post from one of my favorite blogs—Sunny Shell’s Abandoned to Christ. This post speaks so well about all of this. Thank you, Sunny, for helping us recognize these feelings in ourselves and those around us.

 

It seems everywhere we look and every place we go, there’s Christmas music playing, people shopping, commercials filled with laughter and gaiety; sparkling decorations and hearts filled with merriment and hope. But it’s not that way for everyone. There are a silent few…or a silent many who are not merry at Christmastime.
 
Some people have lost loved ones this year through death, or by sin that always separates. Some, like orphans, have no one to lose, but have constant dreams of finding parents who offer the sacrificial and eternal love of Christ rather than the self-centered, ephemeral love this world settles for. Then there are those who are alone in adulthood: widows, divorcees, and those struck with depression. The list goes on…and so do their sorrows. 


Read the rest here

http://www.sunnyshell.org/2014/12/not-everyones-merry-at-christmastime.html

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To Those Hurting This Christmas [Repost]

So many of us are hurting, mostly in ways not easily understood by our friends and family because we put on a good front. We don’t want to bother our loved ones with the details of how much pain we endure each day. Or we’re so busy caring for others in dire physical circumstances that we don’t have the time or inclination to think about how much we go through as we care for these dear ones. Perhaps we don’t know how we’ll pay the bills this month. When or how will we get our next paycheck—or meal?

Oh, we may have a deep and abiding faith in God because we know He loves us and cares about every single little detail of our lives…but these days we are clinging to that faith by our fingernails.

We are understandably so focused on our own pain and suffering or that of our loved ones that we’re afraid to confront our frustrations about a situation that never seems to end. How do we get through this Christmas season of joy when everything around us is in shambles?

Beloved, I’ll be writing more about this in the next days before Christmas, but today I want to share something with you that arrived in my inbox this morning. I pray you will be blessed by this as much as I am, and I will be praying for each and every hurting heart who reads this.

To Those Hurting This Christmas

by John Knight | December 9, 2012

TheWorksOfGod-John9-3-desiringgod.org

I know some of you are praying you’ll make it through Christmas—just make it through—not anticipating anything good will come from gathering with extended family and friends. It has become a cliche—right next to the article on what second-graders are excited about for Christmas is the article on the rise in depression during this last month of the year.

You know the sadness is real. While you change the diaper of a teenager, or administer complicated medications, or prevent your non-verbal ten-year-old from hurting himself again, or explain yet again the complicated life of your five-year-old without a diagnosis for her disability, your nieces and nephews and young friends are playing and running and eating, happily talking about the toys they want or travel they’re excited about or things they are doing in school. They easily do things your child will never do, no matter how many therapies or medications or prayers are offered.

Or maybe the disability in your family member means you can’t gather with other loved ones, and the heartache is almost more than you can stand.

Jesus knows.

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. (Hebrews 4:15, italics added)

More than that, he endured and is victorious!

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1–2, italics added)

And there are some of you who can’t see it. There is still hope!

From Pastor John’s book, When I Don’t Desire God: How to Fight for Joy,

It is utterly crucial that in our darkness we affirm the wise, strong hand of God to hold us, even when we have no strength to hold him. This is the way Paul thought of his own strivings. He said, “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own” (Philippians 3:12). The key thing to see in this verse is that all Paul’s efforts to grasp the fullness of joy in Christ are secured by Christ’s grasp of him. Never forget that your security rests on Christ’s faithfulness first.

Our faith rises and falls. It has degrees. But our security does not rise and fall. It has no degrees. We must persevere in faith. That’s true. But there are times when our faith is the size of a mustard seed and barely visible. In fact, the darkest experience for the child of God is when his faith sinks out of his own sight. Not out of God’s sight, but his. Yes, it is possible to be so overwhelmed with darkness that you do not know if you are a Christian — and yet still be one. (216, italics added)

Jesus understands. Jesus is victorious. Jesus is the answer. May you find him, and in finding him, find hope and peace in these hard days.

And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:7)

John Knight is Director of Development at Desiring God. He is married to Dianne and together they parent their four children: Paul, Hannah, Daniel, and Johnny. Paul lives with multiple disabilities including blindness, autism, cognitive impairments and a seizure disorder. John blogs on issues of disability, the Bible, and the church at The Works of God.

http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/to-those-hurting-this-christmas

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Grateful in All Circumstances [shared from Abandoned To Christ]

Can we truly be grateful for every single thing in our lives? The good and the bad? Today I decided to share a wonderful post about this from Abandoned to Christ. It speaks about this better than I have read anywhere else. Thank you, Sunny Shell, for showing us that it is very possible to be grateful for all things in our lives!

Grateful in All Circumstances

What does it mean, to give thanks in all circumstances?
 
In First Thessalonians chapter five, the Apostle Paul closes with a list of things that every Christian ought to do (vv. 12-22), but can’t do in our own strength or by our own sheer will. Perhaps we can accomplish some, or all that’s on this list, but it would only be a temporary appearance of godly character rather than a faithful and continual walk. For we know if we do not abide in Christ, we will not bear His fruit. And any true godly quality we exhibit is a demonstration of the power of the Holy Spirit within us (1 Cor 2:5), not from our flesh that continually desires the ways of this world.
 
I often refer to my physical trials as a gift from the Lord and something He has seen fit to work in my life for my greatest benefit. And often, I get questions and comments from people who are outraged by my proclamation that a good and loving God would bring pain into my life. They tell me I’m rather foolish and audacious to claim God would do anything besides make me healthy, wealthy and happy. But that’s not what God says.
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Read the rest here.

 

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Prayer When Struggling With Depression

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Today my energy and spirit is dragging, making it difficult to think clearly enough to write. I keep a list of ideas to write about but I can’t seem to summon up the energy to look those up. Instead, I want to share with you one of my devotionals that was published in an anthology titled Anytime Prayers for Everyday People

This particular devotional was in the section titled Prayers of Supplication. 

When I’m struggling with depression . . .

Come quickly, LORD, and answer me, for my depression deepens.
Don’t turn away from me, or I will die.
Let me hear of your unfailing love to me in the morning,
for I am trusting you.
Show me where to walk, for I have come to you in prayer.
—Psalm 143:7-8 NLT

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My soul melts from heaviness;
strengthen me according to Your word.
—Psalm 119:28 NKJV

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God, Who comforts and encourages and refreshes and cheers the depressed and the sinking,
comforted and encouraged and refreshed and cheered us.
—2 Corinthians 7:6 AMP

…..

When doubts filled my mind,
your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer.
 
—Psalm 94:19 NLT

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. . . I will pray.

Father God,

There is so much in my life today that makes me want to give up. I have no energy to do even the basic things such as getting dressed or taking a shower. Nothing seems right. I despise my job. Food no longer appeals to me. My family and friends want to help me, but the thought of being with anyone is so exhausting.

I just want to be left alone. Why must I feel this way? How could I wake up one day with such despair in my heart? It’s not that I haven’t struggled to shake off this gloomy cloud. I truly have, but nothing has helped. And then I remember how You died on that cross for me and how alone and abandoned You must have felt.

Thank You for showering me with Your life-giving comfort and the reassurance of knowing that You truly understand my suffering. Lord, I turn to You now in hope and faith because even if everyone else in my life gives up on me, I know You’ll hold tight to me with a love that won’t let go.

Thank You for always being my Anchor.

Amen.

When you come to the bottom, you find God. —Nevill Talbot

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[From Anytime Prayers for Everyday People. Copyright © 2006 Bordon-Winters LLC]

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Enduring Trials

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None of us can come to the highest maturity
without enduring the summer heat of trials. 
—Charles H. Spurgeon

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My Times Are in Your Hands

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But I trust in You, O LORD;
I say, “You are my God.” 

My times are in Your hands.
—Psalm 31:14-15

Once again, I struggled to unscrew the top from a jar but the stubborn cap refused to budge. Just as I was getting ready to call on Rick for help, it came loose.

I hated having to ask Rick for help so often, but the arthritis in my fingers and carpal tunnel problems with my wrists cause difficulties with the simplest tasks. Daily my frustration grows as I witness different parts of my body getting weaker and sometimes even breaking down. These days I can’t even get down onto the floor or up again without great pain and difficulty because of my bad knees.

Why do things have to be this way? I silently ask God, but I already know the answer: “Trust Me, child, I’m always here to take care of you.”

What would we do without the promises of such a loving God who faithfully guides us through the trials of life? He knows everything about us, which means He understands our limitations. He has intimate knowledge about how much we hurt and He is always with us to comfort our painful and grieving body and spirit. He holds us close to His heart in His ever-powerful hands.

I know my God takes care of me—I believe this without a shadow of doubt. I guess my real problems start when I focus on my problems instead of on God. He realizes my pain and frustration and provides the best comfort possible through His Word. How often I have been in despair and found in Scripture the very words I needed to calm my heart.

Imagine the strength in God’s hands. Now picture those same hands pulling you close in a calm and comforting embrace. His strength is our strength, and can get us through those frustrating times when nothing seems to go right.

Beloved, our times are in God’s hands because everything in our lives is under His control.

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My Lamp in the Darkness

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“You are my lamp, O LORD; the LORD turns my darkness into light. —2 Samuel 22:29

David had many names for God: Rock, Fortress, Deliverer, Refuge, Shield, Horn of Salvation, Stronghold, Savior … Lamp. What a strange way to refer to God, as a common household object. But the meaning is clear when we read on, “the LORD turns my darkness into light.”

I have always loved to read. When I was a young girl, I used to read late into the night. I tried to find ways to keep my bedside lamp from shining too brightly, thus attracting my mother’s attention to the late hour. Sometimes I was successful, but most often my efforts would be curtailed. Without that lamp, I wouldn’t have been able to read in bed at all.

What would we do at night without our lamps? We couldn’t read or write or do a host of other things in the darkness. Even the light of the moon is not strong enough to enable us to see certain things that are right in front of us.

Many of us have what is termed night vision. We can navigate our homes in the middle of the night without turning on a light. That’s because our eyes become accustomed to the dark after a few minutes of turning off the light. I can walk into the kitchen without a light on, but once there I need to turn on the light so I can see the details around me without knocking something off the counter. Without the light, I wouldn’t be able to navigate further without injuring myself.

Beloved, that’s the way God is with us. Without His light, we can only add to our own pain and misery, never seeing His goodness for all the darkness surrounding us. We need to focus on Him as our lamp in the midst of all our pain and frustration.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, sometimes we’re so blind when it comes to trusting You. How often we seem to be groping around on our own rather than relying on You as our Guide. Help us to always look to You as our lamp shining through the darkness of this life’s painful circumstances. Remind us to trust You to navigate us through the dark waters of our earthly existence. Amen.

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Suffering According to God’s Will [Joni ​Eareckson Tada repost]

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Suffering According to God’s Will

​by Joni Eareckson Tada

“So then, those who suffer according to God’s will
should commit themselves to their faithful Creator
and continue to do good.” 

—1 Peter 4:19

​All suffering is within God’s sovereign will. There is not a sparrow that falls without His knowledge or a soul lost for eternity without His tearful purpose being accomplished. In the midst of the expanse of the sovereign will of God is one kind of suffering initiated by us that God not only allows but rewards.​

There are many ways to suffer in this world, where things happen to us. But the kind of suffering referred to by Peter is suffering we experience by choice, through obedience. Such obedience may result in mockery, beatings, discrimination, trials, and temptations. It’s the price one pays for having our bodies in the world and our spirits in the kingdom. Like being on a rack, we can’t escape the torture.

My wheelchair is a suffering that came from the sovereign purpose of the glory of God. And since that time twenty-five years ago, I’ve also suffered things that have come upon my spirit as a result of being in the kingdom. I have chosen to flee temptation, to drag my body from church to hospital, to endure the scorn of those who don’t know God. And I have suffered as a result. Such is the will of God for my life.

​The common suffering He comforts. The godly suffering He rewards. Exchange neither for anything. We can “entrust our souls to a faithful Creator.”

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Lord, grant me strength to endure the common sufferings of life and the willful sufferings of Your kingdom. In all these, may Your presence sustain me and Your glory be made known.

Taken from Diamonds in the Dust.  Copyright © 1993 by Joni Eareckson Tada.  Used by permission.  Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530

http://www.joniandfriends.org/

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Good Times and Bad Times

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 Consider what God has done:

Who can straighten what he has made crooked?
When times are good, be happy;
but when times are bad, consider:
God has made the one as well as the other.
Therefore, a man cannot discover anything about his future.
—Ecclesiastes 7:13-14

I am blessed with naturally curly hair. The fact that I can call this a blessing shows how far I’ve come in my perception of what God has given me. Since I was about 12 years old, I have hated my curly hair and have spent tons of time, money, and energy on various methods to try to straighten these curly locks. But no matter what I do, my hair eventually ends up curly anyway. Often it even gets frizzy. I guess I’ve finally come to the realization that God made me this way because He likes me like this, so why fight it?

This is a photo of me taken probably four or five years ago. This is a good example of my curly-frizzy look. No matter what I do—or don’t do—my curls frizz up!

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“Who can straighten what he has made crooked?”

I don’t want to make light of God’s Word but the moment I read this verse it made me think of my curly hair. It reminds me how we humans often seem to think that what we don’t have is better than what we do have.

Take my curly hair for example. Recently a sales clerk commented: “I love your hair! Is it naturally curly?”

“Thanks, yes it is,” I replied, then laughed. “I was going to tell you how much I like your straight hair.”

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That sales clerk and I both shared a good chuckle over this, but I thought afterward how true this is in our lives. All those if only’s come into play:

  • If only I wasn’t burdened with these illnesses . . .
  • If only I was younger . . .
  • If only I had more time . . .
  • If only I had a better computer . . .
  • If only I had more money . . .
  • If only . . .

Wow, it is so easy to get caught up in the if only’s of life! Look at how the Israelites responded to how God answered their prayers for food as they wandered in the desert:

The rabble with them began to crave other food,
and again the Israelites started wailing and said,
“If only we had meat to eat!

We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost—
also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic.

But now we have lost our appetite;
we never see anything but this manna!” 

—Numbers 11:4-6

Is this no different that how we usually react?

God has provided both good and bad for us for a basic reason: if we had only good things and good times, we would eventually become so used to it that the good would become mundane. How about taking some of those bad things and stacking them up against the good things in our lives? When I do that, I find that the good side of my list greatly outweighs the bad side because at the top of my good list is my relationship with my Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ.

That fact alone outshines anything bad that could be happening to me at any time in my life.

How about you, Beloved? Are you so blinded by the bad things in your life that you find your view of God jaded and possibly fading? Well, I’m here to remind you that He loves you with an everlasting love that will never dim or fade. He loves us enough to allow those bad times so that we can grow closer to Him through those circumstances.

That is the desire of His heart.

Please join me in prayer:

Abba Father, we love You. When we seem ungrateful at times, please help us remember that You always know what is best for us. If the situation seems bad to us it is not that way to You because You allow difficult times in our lives to draw us closer to You so that You can mold us into the people You want us to be. Help us to see that although these pruning times are not easy, You are ever with us to guide us in the way of Your Truth. Thank You for being our Abba Father. Amen.

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